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Beaudreau steps away from office with no regrets

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mike Beaudreau, having lost reelection, is leaving his public office as Gwinnett County Commissioner for the third district.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Mike Beaudreau, having lost reelection, is leaving his public office as Gwinnett County Commissioner for the third district.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mike Beaudreau spends time with his daughter Maggie, 1, and his wife Tegwen at their Lawrenceville home. Having lost reelection, Beaudreau is leaving his public office as Gwinnett County Commissioner for the third district.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mike Beaudreau interacts with his daughter Maggie, 1, at their Lawrenceville home. Beaudreau is leaving his public office as Gwinnett County Commissioner for the third district.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Maggie squealed "Dada," as Mike Beaudreau picked up his 1-year-old daughter.

It wasn't her first word. That was "kitty," but with a dad who spent much of her first year knocking on doors or working as a county commissioner, Beaudreau was glad to be home to hear Maggie's first words and see those first steps.

And he knows now, as he leaves the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners after years in office, the opportunity to spend more time at home with his now walking and talking little girl is a blessing that came from an election defeat.

"Mike's future is wide open and depends upon what he and (wife) Tegwen decide are their priorities," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said of her colleague. "For now, I hope that he can relish the chance to spend more time with Maggie and Tegwen -- time that I know has not been available previously."Accomplishments and angstBeaudreau became one of Gwinnett's youngest politicians when he was elected to office at the age of 29.

Inspired by his mother's election to the zoning board when he was a teen in Connecticut, Beaudreau spent time as an intern in Washington in high school and college and saw a chance to bring change locally not long after he moved to Gwinnett.

"I felt frankly, like the commissioners weren't listening," Beaudreau said, after he got involved in a few local zonings. "I looked at who else was running, and I wasn't convinced they weren't more of the same."

Beaudreau campaigned about an open and accessible government, friendly growth and a reduction of the tax rate.

"I had more energy," he said of taking office at a young age. "I worked crazy hours."

And he knocked on doors, a tireless campaign that brought Beaudreau to 10,000 doorsteps.

Once elected, Beaudreau began a monthly listening session, where residents could meet with him. And even after he lost an August runoff for a third term, Beaudreau continued the sessions, proud that he hosted a meeting for 96 straight months.

Of his accomplishments, he is most proud of a recently completed extension to Sugarloaf Parkway and preserving the land where a fort from the War of 1812 once stood.

But over the years Beaudreau took a lot of heat over issues, most notably an unpopular trash program that came from a lawsuit settlement and a proposal to allow commercial flights at the local airport, which was later defeated.

As his wife Tegwen teased, Beaudreau's stark black hair became sprinkled with gray long before the baby arrived.

But Beaudreau said he has no regrets.

"I've got a record of not cowering down," he said.

"One of the things I want folks to remember is just because I didn't vote your way doesn't mean I didn't listen to somebody," Beaudreau added, referring not only to the town hall meetings but to a commission he put in place to study the trash issue and a group that met to consider all angles of the airport. "I think people will look back and say, 'I realize why Commissioner Beaudreau did it the way he did.' I focused on permanent things, not political points."Moving onBy the end of his first term, a bad economic swing left the government slashing spending. Beaudreau voted against a tax increase, but it was still imposed. Lawsuits and legal issues forced the commission's hand on the trash program and plagued much of his second term with a public discord with local cities.

And then a special grand jury found corruption in the board, leading to the resignation of the chairman and indictment of a commissioner. Two years later, another commissioner was implicated in a federal sting.

All the while, the talk of government trust turned against Beaudreau, the only political figure to survive the ordeal.

"I tried to turn the best I could out of a bad situation," Beaudreau said. "Someday I'll write a book."

Nash said it is Beaudreau's self-confidence and persistence that helped him weather the hard times.

"Mike's greatest accomplishment perhaps is the fact that he persevered over the course of his two terms in office and survived one of the most tumultuous times in recent history for Gwinnett County," she said. "Serving under the circumstances he did could not have been easy, but he kept showing up and doing the job even when he must have been very discouraged."

Under the barrage of campaign rumors and innuendos, Beaudreau turned to the people who knew him best, who knew that he had taken no part in the scandals.

"It would be easy for me to hide, but to me, it's all the more reason to be involved," Beaudreau said. "It gives us more reason to hold our public officials more accountable. ... I'd worry more about apathy than anything else."

And Beaudreau knew there were some pretty important eyes on him: the young men he leads in church youth Bible studies and basketball games.

"You have to lead by example," he said. "There nothing I can do about (the scandals). All I can do is lead by action. I have absolutely no doubt about that."

Those kids and his own dark-haired daughter are the focus of Beaudreau's future, along with his wife.

"I've been moving on," he said of the months since his failed runoff campaign.

Beaudreau noted that he is in a strange position, wanting to give leaders the space to create their own future but keen to keep an eye on the government, so people are held accountable.

"People say (politics) is like embalming fluid. You can't get it out of your blood," he said. "But I don't have a burning desire to jump back in. ... My value is how I'm viewed by my Savior. I'm not really concerned with whether or not someone will vote for me."

But don't count the 38-year-old out forever.

"I'm trying to take a period of introspection and reflection," he said. "I'm still passionate about things like this and God has a plan. ...

"I wouldn't trade a thing, absolutely not."

Comments

NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

Of course you wouldn't Mikey! You are such a pompous narcissistic arrogant politician. And now, you are an ex-politician. Again, your defeat was a lot less about your political positions and more about how you feel the need to treat the good people of Gwinnett County with the level of disdain and disrespect you have for us "peasants". You act all high and mighty and I have witnessed you in action first hand having officers escort people with reasonable questions and expectations out the door like you own the place on multiple occasions because you didn't want, nor care to hear, what they had to say. I hope you find peace with your family. As for the public, don't come back. The people have spoken loud and clear and I've said it before and I'll say it again. Hunter didn't defeat you. You lost this election all by yourself.

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BuzzG 1 year, 3 months ago

Mr. B may not have had any regrets, but the voters sure did.

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mollyrose 1 year, 3 months ago

DItto on BUzzG comments! I was actually about to write the same words!

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ptm4936 1 year, 3 months ago

One of the true public servants. It was a pleasure to have him as my commissioner and more importantly as a friend. My best wishes for whatever the future holds.

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NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

No Patrick, he wasn't a true public servant. If he was, he would have been elected for another term. Since he's such a good friend, then perhaps he can move up there to Blairsville where you are and become a politician up there. And while I wish him the best as well, it is absent of politics in Gwinnett.

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 3 months ago

"Beaudreau steps away from office with no regrets"

uh huh..

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Mack711 1 year, 3 months ago

He did not step away....... the voters voted him out. BIG difference.

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MichelleCouch 1 year, 3 months ago

Thank you for your service to Gwinnett County Mike. You did a fine job and it is most often a thankless job. I will certainly miss you and I look forward to your next endeavor.

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lawmon 1 year, 3 months ago

One of the things that impressed me most was that even after he lost the election, he still held regular meetings so that constituents could meet with him in person. No other Commissioner held as many open meetings. He always personally responded to my inquiries.

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Don_Coyote 1 year, 3 months ago

Would that the voters of Gwinnett would exercise this form of term limits even if the career politicians will not vote them in for themselves.

As to Mr. Beaudreau, he can take solace in the fact that he is still young enough to find an honest trade if he so chooses.

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R 1 year, 3 months ago

Pssssst the man is in SALES.... (Smiles)

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JimmyOrr 1 year, 3 months ago

To those of you making negative comments about Mike's tenure as a county commissioner ask your self the question. Would you have been willing to box 8 rounds (years) in the political arena and take the jabs and punches with the aplomb that Mike displayed? My realtionship with Mike over the eight years that he served as my district commissioner was not without our ups and downs. We often crossed swords so to speak but when we did, we simply agreed to disagree. and drive on. I attended many of his Saturday AM "Meetings with Mike" when I had an issue or issues to discuss with him. I found Mike to be attentive and polite as I aired out my concerns. Two intersection safety issues that he helped me with continues to help the many motorists who pass through those same intersections today. One was the intersection at Winder Highway and Dacula/Harbins Road. Mike was the catalyst in getting a split phase traffic signal with a left turn arrow on the Dacula Road and the Harbins Road sides of this intersection. Same thing for the intersection at Dacula Road and Old Peachtree Road. Mike was instrumental in getting split phase timing with a left turn arrow at this intersection prior to the SPLOST intersection improvement project. Mike, although we had our disagreements and in all proability stepped on each others toes at times, I hold you in high esteem for being the epitome of Isaiah 6:8 (KJV) in answering the call and be willingly to take the verbal abuse thrown your way over these past eight years. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

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kevin 1 year, 3 months ago

Let's not go around bragging about Mike getting stop signs or turning lanes for you. I have called the DOT a dozen times and requested things get put on the sides of roads, like signs, street markings, and even street lights. All I had to do was call and/or meet the DOT and show them the problem. The head of the DOT got them all done for me. This was done without one call to a commissioner. So don't go around trying to convince us this task was so hard to do that only a politician could solve it. He failed working and voting the way his constituents wanted him to vote in his last 3 years. That is what got him VOTED out.

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Karl 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks for your service to the county and its citizens, Commissioner Beaudreau. I'm glad that you were my representative on the commission. You did an admirable job.
. I wish you the best in whatever the future holds for you. You are one of the good guys.

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JohnPDunn 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks for your service, Mike.

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JHogan 1 year, 3 months ago

I never met Mr. Beaudreau, even though he was my representative on the Gwinnett County Commission. There were a couple of times when I had to contact him because of a problem with a sewer odor in my neighborhood, and many other neighborhoods as well. He forwarded the mail onto someone in the water department who provided some answers.

He did what he should have done with the least effort expended, which I think is admirable. The problem was solved to the satisfaction of all concermed.

If it hadn't been for the airport issue, he would have been reelected, IMHO.

He comes across as a very decent person. That's my impression of him. This world need more like him.

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LilburnLady 1 year, 3 months ago

Even though he was not my commissioner, in the rezonings that I and my neighbors opposed, I was always impressed that Mike did not vote with "the herd" many times. He always voted his conscience even when I'm sure it did not win him any brownie points with the other commissioners who simply voted in line with each other so that they could expect the same favor when it was a rezoning in their district. As far as the airport vote, again, he voted his conscience and what he thought would be best for Gwinnett County even though he knew it would be politically unpopular.

I was also impressed with how hard Mike worked to make the Gwinnett Village CID become a reality. I have watched an area that was "written off" as being beyond help, beginning to be turned around. It takes a lot of persistence and talent to bring people together from many different nationalities and cultures and convince them to work together for the good of the group. He is obviously a man with more moral convictions than political career aspirations. We need more men of MIke's caliber to represent us. He will be truly missed.

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JimmyOrr 1 year, 3 months ago

Another intellectural comment from Kevin, Gwinnett County's resident d.a. I "ain't" talking about him being a district attorney either. Kevin, give me the location of the stop signs you had placed and the name, rank, & serial number of those in the Gwinnett DOT you spoke with. It is just like that meeting I invited you to attend back in November. You were a "NO" show. I surmise you are all hat and no cattle, Cowboy.

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Karl 1 year, 3 months ago

Mr. Orr, it is obvious you have kevin's number. He talks and talks while everyone else laughs and laughs at his comments. Unfortunately, I don't think he realizes how silly he looks with his nonsensical ramblings.

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